This doughy, sweet coconut bread is rarely made at home as it is sold fresh and cheaply by bicycle vendors with their glass display cases on all the main streets. It is delicious at any time of the day and much easier to make than it looks.
- 1 tbsp active dried yeast
- 75 ml (3 fl oz/scant ⅓ cup) warm water
- 85 g (3 oz/⅓ cup) caster (superfine) sugar, plus 1 tsp
- 170 ml (6 fl oz/¾ cup) milk
- 60 g (2 oz/¼ cup) lard or butter
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 675 g (1 lb 8 oz/5½ cups) white bread flour
- vegetable oil
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 tbsp melted unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 450 g (1 lb/5 cups) desiccated coconut
- 225 g (8 oz/scant 1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp mixed essence or vanilla extract
- a few drops of red food colouring
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Standing time 2 hours 35 minutes
To make the dough, dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a small bowl. Mix in the 1 teaspoon of sugar, cover and set aside for 10 minutes.
Warm the milk until nearly boiling, add the lard or butter, and sugar. When the fat has melted and sugar dissolved, remove from the heat and let it cool until warm, then stir in the yeast and vanilla extract.
Slowly work in the flour with your index finger until a soft dough forms. Turn it out on to a lightly floured surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic. Place the dough ball in a large mixing bowl greased with a small amount of vegetable oil and turn it around to oil all sides of the dough. Cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for at least 1½ hours until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough down, cut in half and cover and leave for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/Gas 5) and combine all the ingredients for the filling, except for the red food colouring, in a mixing bowl. Add enough drops of the food colouring to turn the mixture bright red.
Roll each half of the dough into a rectangle about 1 cm (½ in) thick and measuring about 25 cm x 33 cm (10 in x 13 in). Brush with the melted butter. Smooth half of the filling mixture over each of the rectangles but not right up to the ends. Roll the dough up lengthwise and seal the edges and leave to prove for 45 minutes. Brush the rolls with maple syrup and bake for 25–30 minutes until golden. Cool on a wire rack and serve.
Recipe and image from The Pepperpot Club, Jonathan Phang (Hardie Grant, $49.95, hbk)